Hyderabad: Observing the poor state of local governing bodies where funds provided to build toilets to protect the dignity of the public and stop open defecation, was misused, the Hyderabad High Court on Tuesday directed the Director General of Telangana Anti-Corruption Bureau to conduct an inspection in two to four villages randomly on the misuse of Swachh Bharat funds, which were sanctioned for construction of toilets in rural areas and asked to submit a report to it by January 3, 2019.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan and Justice S.V. Bhatt while dealing with a petition of misappropriation of Sowchalayas funds of Rs 40 lakhs by the Sarpanch of Narsingi village in Medak district, felt that wherever, a woman is the Sarpanch of the Gram Panchayat, the spouse of the Sarpanch under a Benami category, meddled with the funds of the Gram Panchayat and diverted those funds for personal purposes. As per the earlier directions of the court, the ACB DG conducted the inspection in the said village and submitted a report to it.
While going through the report, the bench observed that the report prima facie discloses the enormity of the fraud, collusion and misappropriation of Sowchalayas funds by the Sarpanch, and said that the report of the DG could not be treated as isolated or as a single matter of misappropriation resorted to.
The Bench informed that “The ACB should further probe and unearth such type of issues which directly relate to the protection of dignity of human beings because the amount sanctioned for the purpose of constructing toilets to enable people to lead a dignified life by using these toilets rather than defecating in the open, putting their lives in peril, and if these funds are misused by the officials, such a situation should be dealt with on a war footing.”
The Chief Justice observed that wherever a woman was the Sarpanch of a Gram Panchayat, the spouse of the sarpanch was administering under a benami category and commented that seats in local self-governing institutions were not intended to be remotely controlled by benamis, and husbands of women sarpanches were defacto sarpanches.
Further it said if such spouses of the women sarpanches were allowed to misuse the funds which were sanctioned for the purpose of constructing toilets to enable a human being to live a healthy and dignified life, then the main motto of this Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was defeated and moreover, the endeavour to strengthen women empowerment took a back seat.
The Bench further impleaded the Director, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Government of India, to the Public Interest Litigation as he is the officer who was responsible for sanctioning amounts for construction of toilets....